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  • 2015

    Start Planning for the Future - College Edition

    Students on iPad_300.jpgPlanning for college is a very exciting time! You are working towards your next phase of education to get the career you are dreaming of. It is important to make sure you cover all your bases when you start planning. There is a lot of information available that can help you navigate this process. Before you start planning you should first decide what type of college experience you are looking for. You may be interested in community college, a university, or maybe even a training program at a specific college. 

    Here are some steps to get you started:

    1. Research, research, research! You want to be sure that you know about all the potential schools you could attend and find out which one seems to be the best fit for you and your situation. Attending college fairs, looking online, speaking to current or alumni of schools, college visits and meetings with admissions staff are all great ways to research schools and get a feel for the atmosphere and culture of a college. 

    ​2. Gather your information to apply! You will need to meet certain requirements to apply/attend each college/program. It is important that you have all the necessary information before applying to make the process smooth.  Don’t forget there can be application fees and essay requirements, so be aware and prepared for those. You may also need your:

    • ACT/SAT scores
    • High School transcripts
    • Letters of recommendation 
    • Lists of extracurricular activities
    • GPA
    • Class rank 
    • Etc.
    3. After applying you may need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Many schools require students to do this to help get your financial aid, grants, and loans in order and to assess your eligibility for their financial aid specific to the school.

    4. After you have been accepted and decide on a school/program based on cost, financial aid, location, and other factors, you will need to be sure to read all communication you receive from the school. It can be either by mail or e-mail. Much of the information they send may have forms or other important information that you will need to read and complete prior to starting. Make sure you complete and understand all of these things and if you have questions contact the school for more information. Some of the things you may need to do are:
    • Complete a placement or compass test prior to starting classes so the school knows what Math and English classes you need to take.
    • Register for classes.
    • Fill out housing information.
    • Meet with your advisor and declare a major.
    • Find out about on or off campus jobs.
    • Order your books.
    • Accept or provide further information for financial aid and school loans.
    • Etc.
    Once you have completed all the necessary items and have nailed down your financial aid/loans, then you are ready to start college life. You will be able to create a path for yourself that is paved with fun, learning, volunteering, extracurricular activities, friends, professors and all of the other great experiences that you will have. Below are some great resources to help get you started with your college planning.

    Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) resources were used in the writing of this news item.​


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